***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
December 31, 2012
NIYA Calls for New Obama Policy to be Applied to Detention Centers
A good policy that should be enacted in good faith
NATIONAL—The National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) applauds the recent decision by the Obama Administration to reduce the number of undocumented immigrants who will be incarcerated for immigration violations. This policy was a victory for those of us who have unapologetically back on the administration’s dragnet enforcement programs for years. NIYA now calls on the administration to apply this policy to immigrants currently in detention.
At any given time, tens of thousands of people are detained in privately owned detention facilities that are contracted by the federal government. For the current fiscal year, the administration requested $1.959 billion for Department of Homeland Security Custody Operations. Not only is this an extreme and objectionable cost to the taxpayer, but it is also a major barrier for detainees to their legal representation in court and an extreme hardship for their families.
Many immigrants in detention are eligible for relief. Agnaldo Batista, who has been detained in Broward Transitional Center in Florida since May, has a family member who has filed a petition for him to obtain residence. Andrea Herrera, also known to millions of hip-hop fans as “Kat Stacks,” has been detained for two years awaiting deportation—and away from her son—while her suppoters still pursue her potential release.
In September, 26 Members of Congress signed a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton requesting a full review of the Broward detention facility after receiving information about the neglectful care and potential relief for hundreds of detainees there. While ICE claims to conduct regular screenings of detainees, this process have been proven to be faulty or nonexistent. In July, Cipriano Toledo, a detainee at Broward, was only released after NIYA brought public attention to his eligibility for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Doubtlessly, there are thousands of people currently in detention who would not be there had the administration’s new policy been in place at the time of arrest. If the Administration believes in family unity and for its reforms to have a meaningful impact for the family members of immigrants, it will apply this policy meaningfully to those who need it most.
The National Immigrant Youth Alliance is an undocumented youth-led network of 27 organizations in over 24 states that organizes communities to fight deportation and against the criminalization of immigrants. As NIYA we believe the only way to safeguard our communities is to empower, educate and most importantly, escalate.